Tons of publications, from Business Insider to Gawker, have published cautionary articles about using “just” in emails and workplace conversation.
Yes, these articles are partially correct— using just can diminish the power of a statement. “I’m just going to share one idea.” is less direct than “I’m going to share one idea.” But, the articles are missing some really important points.
3 Reasons Deleting Just is NOT the Answer
- Modifying your level of directness is a great communication skill. If you’re an assertive manager trying to get creative work from an introvert, use just!
- Sometimes just makes things STRONGER not WEAKER. Nike's famous, “Just do it" is incredibly powerful. “Do it” doesn’t have the same ring. “She just glared at me” is stronger than “She glared at me.” Just emphasizes or diminishes based on context.
- The hate mail pouring in for the word "just" is grounded in a real problem. You can diminish your status through your language. But creating a list of “wrong words” can add another layer of self-consciousness to people who are already struggling to assert themselves.
The best communicators think with great clarity. They articulate their thoughts in real time to accomplish their goal. And, they are skilled at framing their message so the other person is able to hear it.
To elevate the power of your communications, instead of micromanaging your word choice, identify a clear goal for each communication. This goal should be about the other person. For example, “I want him to see me as an equal.” or “I want to impress this potential client.” Both of these examples are about the other person.
Then when you’re speaking, pay attention to the other person’s reactions and pursue your goal. Choose your words to accomplish this goal. Do NOT make it about you. Your language will naturally come out differently.
By setting a clear goal about the other person, it takes some self-consciousness out of communicating and often frees up your power.
As with any communication challenge, it just takes practice to see results because we all have deeply rooted habits. So stick with it to see a real transformation.